Albay takes urgent measures against monster supertyphoon Yolanda

By Johnny C. Nunez

LEGAZPI CITY, (PNA) — Albay has taken urgent measures in preparation for what is billed as “Monster Supertyphoon Yolanda” which is expected to hit the country Friday afternoon, November 8.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda has ordered an all out preparation against Typhoon Yolanda, forecast to make a landfall between Southern Luzon and the Vizayas by 2 p.m. this coming Friday.

Salceda has ordered all cities, towns and barangays of the province to mobilize and flex their muscle to ensure their ‘Zero Casualty‘ goal that goes with ‘preemptive evacuation,’ two campaigns Albay has popularized in its disaster risk reduction (DRR) program.

“Now is the time to prepare and act. We ask the various disaster risk reduction and management offices from cities, towns and barangays to start reviewing their response strategies to the impact of floods, flashfloods, landslides, storm surges and strong winds on exposed households and critical resources,” Salceda stressed.

Typhoon Yolanda was referred previously by PAGASA as TD 31, which Salceda said is “a monster and it has been long since forecasters have agreed on a consensus” about it. It has winds reaching 222 kph. It is forcast to make a landfall by 2 p.m. or towards evening of Friday, November 8, between Southern Luzon and the Visayas.

The Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office has called up emergency meetings with the local DRR management offices, and a ‘preemptive evacuation” may be ordered soon. Salceda said households near riverbanks, lahar and mountain slopes should start preparing their evacuation kits and familiarize themselves with their evacuation routes and evacuation camps.

Salceda has specifically ordered the following: 1) Conduct of PDRRMC Emergency Meeting on November 5 at the AECID Hall for the PAGASA briefing and preparedness update; 2). City, town and barangay DRRMCs to shift to State of Heightened Alert and close monitoring for any shift in track and rainfall, and closely monitor their respective areas and execute measures to ensure zero casualty;

3). Check on the availability of their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) or Quick Response Fund and have them ready to support emergency evacuation needs; 4). Physically inspectthe state of response, search, rescue and retrieval equipage and implement remedies to address strategic gaps;

5). Close monitoring of the sea surface movements and keep fishermen and small seacraft updated for disaster avoidance; and 6). Postpone local educational tours previously approved covering the period from November 6 to 10, 2013.

Noting that newly elected barangay officials begin their term on November 30 yet, Salceda urged incumbent baranagay officials to collaborate closely with their successors for the sake of their zero casualty goal. “May God bless us all,” he said.

Typhoon Wilma, a much weaker storm, cruised through northern Mindanao ahead of Yolanda. “Our country is facing possibly the most stormy week since Reming and Milenyo. Let us continue praying that we be spared, so Bicol would have its 2nd typhoon-free year,” he added.

Albay, a typhoon prone province, had a “peaceful” 2012, or typhoon, which local folks attributed to their praying of the “Oratio Imperata,” a special prayer composed by then Bishop Lucilo Quiambao, who dedicated it to Salceda and Albay province following the destruction by Typhoon Reming six years ago.

The Zero Casualty strategy is now a highlight feature of Albay’s Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) scheme and has been adopted by both the national government and many other local government units. It has helped Albay become disaster resilient.

For its impressive and outstanding accomplishments in its DRRM, the Civil Service Commission (CSC) and the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recently conferred on Albay their Pagasa and Kalasag awards, respectively.

In recognition of the same accomplishments and proactive stance against disasters, the United Nations International Strategy for Risk Reduction (UNSDR) has declared Albay as its Global Model and Salceda himself as its Senior Global champion and spokesman on DRR and Climate Change Adaptation.